New Year's Eve in Red Cuckoo Land

Sopron, April 1957: I am on an excursion trip from Budapest with my fellow students and teachers from my senior primary school.

Sopron is a picturesque town inside Hungary at the border with Austria. It was the most important crossing zone for the 200,000 Hungarian defectors pouring into free Austria after the Soviet troops crushed the Hungarian Revolution six months earlier. The subsequent, Russian installed puppet regime hastily re-erected the Iron Curtain of barbed wire fence there, torn down during the Revolution. This, together with a large number of border guards scanning the border, ensure that we Hungarians are once again caged in within the borders of our own country.

After the crushing of the Revolution, there was not a single person in Hungary, who still believed in Soviet-led communism. Sure, there were the opportunist pretend communists, but it was only a ‘lick the boot to get more loot’ game for them. Kádár, the Soviet installed leader of the post-revolution regime was so much lacking in legitimacy that he cynically declared: “Anyone who is not against us is with us”.

So, we, reckless 11-year-olds decided to send up the regime, in just a viewing distance away from the Iron Curtain that separated us from Austria.

Ten of us formed a circle around a Lenin statue in this park in Sopron. We all pretended to stand to attention and raised our right arms and fingertips to our caps and mock-saluted Lenin. While saluting we burst out chanting in unison at the top of our voices:
“Rákosi a vezérünk, senkivel sem cserélünk. Hurrá!”

Ad. Article continues below.

That is:
“Rákosi is our leader, we will not swap with you either. Hurrah!”

The only problem was, that Rákosi was our pre-revolution, Stalinist communist dictator, against whom, together with his Russian masters, the ire of revolution was directed, six months earlier. He escaped to the Soviet Union after he was overthrown during the revolution and we never heard of him again. Before the revolution, this mini-Stalin of ours, was engaged in a saturation cult of the personality campaign, so that his pictures hung everywhere.

After the Revolution, all references to him vanished and no one was allowed to mention his disgraced name; as if he never existed.

When our teachers caught us shouting his name in our act of blatant mockery, they went berserk. They ran up to us whispering in a half petrified, half menacing voice:

“Hey you all! Shut up instantly! Do you want us all arrested?!

Ad. Article continues below.

“You’ve got to be out of your minds; the border guards are everywhere!”

So we dispersed, but we could hardly restrain ourselves from laughing our heads off.

We heard the above mock chant enacted by Hungary’s top comedians in the 1956 New Year’s Eve Cabaret on National Television.

The repressive regime struck a cunning bargain with the population: Just once a year, in particular, on New Year’s Eve only, Hungary’s comedians could stage a nationally broadcast cabaret show in which they were allowed to send up the regime for three hours until midnight.

If they said anything that was critical of the regime after midnight and during the rest of the year, they were to be arrested and possibly charged even with treason. The rationale for this bizarre arrangement was part of the regimes’ cynical strategy of allowing the population to blow off steam once a year in their homes, so as to prevent us from blasting off the lid of the pressure cooker of dictatorial oppression.

Ad. Article continues below.

The motto for our appeasement was:

‘Panem at circenses!’ ‘Free bread and circus to the masses!’

Yet a few comedians refused to play this game. They repeated the jokes other times during the year, with which they could get away without retribution only on New Year’s Eve. After every time they did so, they were jailed.
These daring, once a year cabarets that I watched every year from 1956 until I defected from Hungary in 1964, were extraordinarily important for the whole captive population for showing solidarity by being able to laugh at the oppressors, at least once a year. For those three hours we breathed freely, even though for the rest of every year we were cowed by the regime.

I remember I could hardly wait for the start of the Cabaret on New Year’s Eve.

I used to lie on my stomach on the carpet in front of the TV, eating my dinner from a plate that I placed on a tray on the floor. Every New Year’s Eve, I had this special treat for dinner of several pairs of continental boiled frankfurters with mustard. It was a delight to munch on the juicy frankfurters, while rolling on the floor with laughter.

Ad. Article continues below.

The Compare on the TV would say: “In our glorious Orwellian Animal Farm, everyone is equal; some more equal than others…”

What is the definition of Communism?

What is yours is mine, what is mine, you have nothing to do with!

The Gypsy is trying to defect to Austria, but the border guide spots him. He sees this dog poo nearby, so he squats down over it, pretending to do his business. The border guard reaches him and says: “What are you doing Gypsy?”

The Gypsy gestures: “Well, can’t you see?”

Ad. Article continues below.

The border guard: “Stand up Gypsy.”

He obliges.

The border guard: “But Gypsy, this is dog turd.”

The Gypsy shrugs his shoulders: “Well, dog’s life, dog’s turd!”’

In 1989 Communism collapsed in Hungary. Eventually it also crumbled in the Soviet Union. But dictatorship is back under Putin and red tyranny in China is stronger than ever. Neither of these regimes allow satirizing the dictators, not even once a year.

Ad. Article continues below.

The International Olympic Committee honoured China by granting it the privilege to stage the 2008 Olympics, in spite of serious international concerns about China’s Human Rights record.

China’s rulers approached the famous dissident artist, Ai Weiwei to design the National Olympic Stadium in Beijing.

For the Beijing Olympics they wanted the most unique stadium in the history of the Olympics.

Ai Weiwei accepted the commission only on the undertaking from the CCP that the Olympics would bring China freedom of expression and that it would celebrate the people of China, not the Communist Party.

Ai Weiwei chose a nest design as a metaphor for nurturing; for embracing the whole Chinese people as well as representatives of the world community; an invitation to be together in joyful harmony.

Ad. Article continues below.

But before the Olympics, China’s rulers went back on their word. They brutalised Tibetans; staged mass arrests of dissenters, forcefully evicted people from their homes to give way to prestige constructions for the glory of the Party. They muzzled the media to only report good news about China.

Thousands of babies suffered kidney damage, others died, because the Party stopped the media before and during the Olympics from alerting the public that Chinese milk powder for babies was poisoned. The red cuckoos invaded the Bird’s Nest.

The Cuckoos’ habit of laying her egg in the nest of other birds is well known and several species of birds are fooled and incubate the egg as their own. When the Red Princeling Cuckoos are hatched, they proceed to evict the true chicks and the eggs of the adopted parent birds from the nests, causing the death of the foster-parents’ real offsprings. (See the forced abortions of the underlings and land grabs by the Party Princelings.)
By this method the cuckoo chicks ensure that they alone are the object of the adult birds’ care.

Around the beginning of September, the young cuckoos start to fly around on their own, and then tag along with older birds of their own kind to fly South. They raid other nests abroad too, such as the real estate of Australia.

Ai Weiwei designed the Bird’s Nest Stadium as a tribute to China’s population for their 1988 Beijing Olympics.

Ad. Article continues below.

But when he realised that the Red Cuckoos (the CCP) took over the nest for their own glorification, evicting the true owners of the nest: the ordinary Chinese people, he announced:

“I wish I never designed the Bird’s Nest. I call for the boycotting of the 2008 Beijing Olympics.”

The world refused to heed his call.

One flew over the Cuckoos’ Nest.

Currently China’s Red Cuckoos are busy in laying their eggs in the nests of the artificial islands of the South China Sea.

Ad. Article continues below.

Can political satire shame unscrupulous politicians? Share your thoughts with us.

Dymocks Blogger Rewards

To write for Starts at 60 and potentially win a $20 voucher, send your articles to our Community Editor here.